HM Plant Honda has revealed that it will enter BSB star Michael Rutter on factory machinery in both the Superbike and Supersport events, at the 2004 North West 200.

The North West 200 is one of Northern Ireland's most popular sporting events, which attracts over 200 competitors and 100,000 spectators annually to the North Antrim coast.

The spectacular road circuit links the towns of Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine and it is anticipated that the CBR1000RR and CBR600RR will be well suited to its long straights and exhilarating corners.

Rutter will put his supremacy on the line when he contests the British Superbike Championship specification Fireblade in the two, six-lap Superbike races. The 30-year-old Leicestershire rider has already shown the capability of the HRC factory prepared Superbike, when he won the first round of the British series at Silverstone on 28 March.

HM Plant Honda Racing has also confirmed that Rutter will be competing in the two six-lap Supersport races on defending British Supersport Champion Karl Harris' CBR600RR.

Harris - who also won at Silverstone - will not be racing at the North West 200 and therefore Rutter will be showing his Irish fans how adaptable he is to the Supersport class.

This will be a special event for Rutter as he aims to match his father Tony's total of nine wins at the North West 200.

"I've been competing at the North West 200 for nine years now and have always enjoyed it," said Rutter, who won last year's Superbike race. "The event itself is always fantastic and the fans are incredibly enthusiastic. It's like a lot of racing was ten years ago - really laid back with no real pressure.

"I'm especially looking forward to it this year because the HM Plant Honda Fireblade should suit the circuit. The bike turns amazingly well and the new rotary steering damper works brilliantly when you're flat-out - in fact the faster you go the better the whole thing seems to work.

"I've had quite a lot of success at the North West," Rutter concluded, "so I'm climbing the all-time winners rankings and I'm only one win away from equalling my dad's record. I suppose the family influence has rubbed off on me because the North West has become a special event for me too."

"We participated in last year's race and received a tremendous response from the fans," explained team co-ordinator Simon Buckmaster. "It's a fantastic event for all concerned and we really enjoy the atmosphere it generates.

"It's important for HM Plant Honda Racing to support such an important date on the Superbike calendar and say 'thank you' to the Irish fans for all their support," he added. "We're bringing our strongest presence yet to the event (including a hospitality facility) and intend to do the same for the following weekend's British Superbike round at Mondello Park, near Dublin."

Practice for the 2004 Junction One International North West 200 takes place on Tuesday 11 May and Thursday 13 May. Roads close at 10.30am and the first race is due to start at 11.30am on Saturday 15 May.

 

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